Sun Herald Editorial Favors Margaritaville rezoning to prohibit casino gaming; urges Secretary of State to support

This is what the Mississippi Coast needs, not another casino. Courtesy of Barrington Development


By The Editorial Board

We believe the Mississippi Coast needs the amusement park proposed at Margaritaville in Biloxi.

We hope the Biloxi Planning Commission sticks with rezoning 20 acres near the family-themed resort to prevent casino development there.

Barrington Development wants to build another hotel there, along with a giant Ferris wheel and other rides as part of a $140 million Phase II at Margaritaville.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann is standing in the way of that project, though, and his office controls the tidelands lease Barrington needs.

The Planning Commission will take another look at the zoning request at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Community Development building at 6765 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

One sticking point is the fact that a tidelands lease for a casino would be more lucrative than a non-casino lease. And Hosemann said he could have a competing project for that site if he had more time.

We don’t want a competing project. We want an amusement park. That is what is missing from the Coast tourism landscape. We believe we already have plenty of casinos.

We also believe the dividends paid by a first-rate family attraction would more than offset any loss in tidelands revenue. An amusement park is the sort of attraction people have been clamoring for for years.

We agree with Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich, who backs the Margaritaville plan and says it will give the Coast a package no other casino town could match.

Developers expect to add 700 jobs, pay $2 million in state and local taxes and attract 1 million new visitors a year.

Lofty goals. But why not?

Barrington has restored the White House Hotel, an iconic resort that sat empty and in disrepair for decades, and it is transforming the Santa Maria del Mar into another hotel.

That’s the kind of track record we can believe in. The Secretary of State’s Office should give this project its full attention and cooperation.

The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.